Florida

Obama commutes sentences of a dozen Floridians on Friday

President Barack Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 42 nonviolent drug offenders, 12 of whom are Floridians.
President Barack Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 42 nonviolent drug offenders, 12 of whom are Floridians. AP

Oct. 1 will be the last day in prison for nearly a dozen Floridians, thanks to President Barack Obama, who on Friday commuted the sentences of 42 nonviolent drug offenders.

Each had at least 15 years, if not the rest of their lives, left on their prison sentences.

For 11 of them, Oct. 1, 2016, will be their last day in prison. One Jacksonville man has to wait two more years for his release date. Nine of the Floridians had been serving life sentences (and in one case, 60 years on top of that).

Closest to home, Darran Lamar Moore, of Miami, was imprisoned in 2005 for owning and intending to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. He faced life in prison.

Ronald Gregory Farah, of Boca Raton, got life in prison in 1997, when he was jailed for crimes involving smuggling and distributing marijuana.

Ronald Glinton, of Boynton Beach, also had a life sentence. He was jailed in 1993 for a variety of cocaine charges, including intent to distribute, conspiracy to manufacture and possession.

The list of charges for Vero Beach’s Phillip Maurice Thomas involves cocaine, “a substance containing MDMA or Ecstasy” and “a mixture and substance containing marijuana.” For possession and intent to distribute, he faced more than 24 years in prison.

Both of the women from Orlando whose sentences were commuted were imprisoned on cocaine charges. Wilhemina Bryan got 30 years in 2001 for conspiracy to import and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. Teresa Mechell Griffin got life for distributing a kilogram of cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and unlawful travel in interstate commerce with the intention of illegal activity.

The longest sentence of the bunch was Joe Mack Flowers, of St. Petersburg, who has been in prison since 1991. Flowers faced life plus 60 years for conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute and for being a convicted felon with a gun while dealing drugs.

Dale Baldwin, of Largo, got life in prison for conspiracy and three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 1995.

Conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute netted Anthony Walter Puig, of Land O’Lakes, 30 years in prison in 2002.

Those same charges, plus having a gun as a convicted felon, got Almos L. Starks, of Jacksonville, life in prison in 1995.

In 1997, Tony Jones, of Tallahassee, got life for conspiracy to distribute cocaine base plus two counts of possession with intent to distribute.

And Robert Pettway, of Pensacola, was imprisoned for life in 2004 for conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine and a “substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base.”

Alex Harris @harrisalexc

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